Pineapple on your pizza? Us neither… try it in Firestarter instead – a mouthwatering mix of mango, pineapple, coconut, lime together with a little background heat from the hit of chilli. And instead of apple juice, try it with a mix of water & pineapple juice (50/50) to ramp up that tropical taste.
Let’s get into the detail
Pineapple, originally discovered in South America where early European explorers named it after its resemblance to a pinecone, is a bit of a miracle fruit. It’s been a part of traditional medicine for centuries, and with an incredibly impressive nutrient profile, including vitamin C and manganese (131% and 76% of your RDA), it’s not difficult to see why. Quick recap on those two: Vit C is essential for growth and development, a healthy immune system and ensures good absorption of iron from your diet. Meanwhile, manganese maintains a healthy metabolism and has antioxidant properties (fighting ‘bad’ free radicals that cause chronic inflammation, a weakened immune system and many harmful diseases).
However it’s the compound Bromelain which we’ll focus on today – it helps you to recover from a strenuous workout, deals with a dodgy tummy after a meat feast, fights cancerous cells and can help kids recover more quickly from sinus infections – who knew! Let’s look at each of those benefits.
Bromelain is a type of digestive enzyme. It functions as a protease, which breaks down protein molecules into their building blocks, such as amino acids and small peptides. Once protein molecules are broken down, they are more easily absorbed across the small intestine. This can be especially helpful for people with pancreatic insufficiency, a condition in which the pancreas cannot make enough digestive enzymes.
Bromelain is also widely used as a commercial meat tenderizer due to its ability to break down tough meat proteins. So that pepperoni/pineapple pizza may be a good idea after all! (although for a similar combination of spice and sweetness we prefer it in Firestarter!)
Several studies have shown that pineapple and its compounds may reduce the risk of cancers. This is because they may minimize oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
Two test-tube studies showed that bromelain suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells and stimulated cell death. Other test-tube studies (not human research – yet) show that bromelain suppresses cancer in the skin, bile duct, gastric system and colon.
The reason for this is that bromelain may stimulate the immune system to produce molecules that make white blood cells more effective at suppressing cancer cell growth and eliminating cancer cells.
Obviously, you’d have to eat a LOT of pineapple to get as much bromelain in your system as a supplement, and more human-based research is needed before any conclusions can be made – but it’s a very interesting start, and a great incentive to eat more!
Kids Immunity and Inflammation
One nine-week study fed 98 healthy children either no pineapple, some pineapple (140g) or lots of pineapple (280g) daily to see if it boosted their immunity. Children who ate pineapples had a significantly lower risk of both viral and bacterial infections – wow. Also, children who ate the most pineapple had close to four times more disease-fighting white blood cells (granulocytes) than the other two groups.
Another study found that children with a sinus infection recovered significantly faster while taking a bromelain supplement, compared to a standard treatment or combination of the two.
The easiest way to get pineapple into your kids? Coco Loco of course! (or Pash n Shoot, or Big 5)
May help with Arthritis
Arthritis affects over 10 million adults in the UK alone. There are many types of arthritis, but most of them involve inflammation in the joints.
Back to our miracle compound bromelain and its anti-inflammatory properties: research from as early as the 1960s shows that bromelain was used to relieve pain for people affected with rheumatoid arthritis.
One more recent study in patients with osteoarthritis found that taking a digestive enzyme supplement containing bromelain helped relieve pain as effectively as common arthritis medicines like diclofenac.
Recovery After Surgery or Strenuous Exercise
Yet more anti-inflammatory benefits: it may reduce the time it takes to recover from surgery or exercise.
For example, one study showed that those who consumed bromelain before dental surgery had significantly reduced pain and felt happier than people who did not (well we’re all happy if we’re not in pain!). In fact, it appeared to provide a similar amount of relief as common anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen.
Strenuous exercise can also damage muscle tissue and cause surrounding inflammation. Affected muscles cannot produce as much force and are sore for up to three days. Proteases like bromelain are believed to speed up the recovery of damage caused by strenuous exercise by reducing inflammation around the damaged muscle tissue.
One study tested this theory by giving participants a digestive enzyme supplement that contained bromelain after 45 minutes of strenuous exercise on the treadmill. Those who took the supplement had less inflammation and maintained more strength afterward.
So pineapple, and specifically its active compound bromelain, are absolute winners when it comes to keeping you healthy, and we would definitely recommend getting more into your diet.
A quick note on allergies – if you have an existing allergy to latex, then bizarrely you may be more at risk of being allergic to pineapples too. The symptoms are: face/tongue/throat/lips swelling, difficulty breathing, flushing, intense itching or hives, constipation, sinus congestion, metallic taste in the mouth, dizziness, fainting and of course, anaphylactic shock. Do speak to your GP if you are concerned with any of the above.
But none of this helps us with the biggest question of all – how do you cut a pineapple?!
Watch this clever man do just that… or let us do all the prep for you! 🙂
In the meantime, stay well and happy blending!